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Andrew Travis
Jim VanderMey




November 5 2016

Sheltered Uniformity

A maelstrom of information passes by; teachers doing their thing, trying to input their
slideshows into their students brains. If osmosis based learning was a thing, the students would
all be in on it, and it would help them in their endeavor to ingest information and reciprocate it
on tests. They live with a bubble surrounding them, a finite shield with numbered days.
Innocence in many forms, including knowledge. A debate class divided nearly in half. Hateful
looks being shot across the room; the daggers a product of people trying to change their thinking.
They debate abortion; the morality that opposes it and the justification of unwanted life. Only
once a year in Shepherd High School, a small-town school in the center of Michigan, does this
debate go down. The participants cannot believe their ears, what they hear is almost foreign to
them: someone thinking the exact opposite way that they do. And that is because it is foreign.
Students are so sheltered, that they do not know how to deal with these triggers, these
micro-aggressions. In this case, it is a whole bunch of micro-aggressions thrown at them at the
same time, some students and especially those with heavily religious beliefs close to heart act out
in volatile ways. One girl grabs a pair of scissors off of a shelf and repeatedly stabs at her purse,
attempting to mimic what the baby goes through. Another simply walks up to the podium in tears

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that someone would disagree so strongly with her core beliefs. As soon as a trigger is activated,
they shut down. Like the warning lights on a car, triggers tell them something is wrong, so they
go into primal mode. These micro-aggressions are a natural part of growing up, but high school
students do not get enough of them, and it is not their fault.

It can be pinned in part on their environment, it can be said that the conformist society
they are placed in every day warps their minds. Uniformity in some of the most strict senses
suppresses the students need to be free and discover of their own free will the will of the world
and society. But uniformity unites them, keeps them close and protected, gives them order. To
some, the order is absurdly unnecessary. Students with this point of view tend to rely heavily on
creative thinking, growing as a learner of philosophy and the intangible. The high school
environment to these students is constricting and confining, the uniformity a prison to these
Freirean thinkers. On the flip-side of the coin, those that appreciate the sense of order take on a
more Deweyan, scientific, organized intelligence take on learning (Fishman 119). Those
students require more nurturing, a more structuralized approach that caters to the individual,
whereas the more Freirean thinkers want space and freedom (Fishman 120). While uniformity as
contextualized by these two famous thinkers can be interpreted to mean two very different
things, the sum of their thoughts are boiled down to the discrimination between their ideals of
democracy. Their thoughts of human nature are immensely different, just like the divided debate
classroom. Their ideals and morals clashing until the moderator steps in to calm the storm. Once
the students leave the classroom and enter the hallway, all animosity is lost and forgotten in the
sheltered canopy of the jungle of high school, yet again returning to the product of their

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environment, uneducated and unrefined, like a dull sword only useful for buttering large slices of
toast. The two thinkers demonstrate that without a more diverse and differing path of education,
without the student-teacher contract and the disassembling of the banking concept, the students
will be caught in the middle, in the void between the paths, a product and not a producer.

Upon walking into a hospital, one can smell the scent of sanitization; a frenzied
cleanliness that smells as sterile as the starched bedsheets. A high school is much the same, if
only one were not talking about the scent in reality, but of the environment the students are
bathed in daily. A stark difference between the education of experience and the education of the
school can be noticed, simply because the schools have been sanitized, stripped of anything
deemed unfit to be learned in the classroom. Stripped of anything that could harm students in
an emotional or spiritual way. Teachers cannot engage the class in conversation of religion,
unless they remain unbiased partisans simply delivering the facts of religion in a history class or
a humanities class. Not a soul even touches on the issues with society today, what could be
behind them, who says what and even if that much is the truth. The environment students are
placed in shields them childishly from society and reality, and then upon graduation throws them
to the wolves, directly into the teeth of society.
Perhaps this is one reason why college freshmen intoxication rates are so high. And yet
another aspect of society that remains untouched, drinking problems and problems in general,
where people turn to vice instead of other people. By taking a Freirean approach to a Deweyan
ideal, if Dewey were to say community is the strength of humankind, Freire would deduce that
community created the problem in the first place. So therefore, by changing the way we think

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about community and humanity, we can change who we want to be as learners and teachers, we
can de-sanitize the system, cleansing it of its puritanism to help influence the minds of high
school students to help better them, steel them for the future and make them better thinkers and
problem solvers. The canopy that looms over them, this ethical shield, only serves to make their
oppressors (Freire 96) feel as though they have done something of a service, when in reality
they are only holding their pupils back.

Diverse learning has been stressed by our nation for years now, putting heavy emphasis
on equal representation of the races and people from all economic standings. However, colleges
that focus on the general education for all backgrounds typically have lower retention rates and
higher dropout rates (Hurtado 5). It is entirely possible that the problem lies within society; the
reason for the lack of interest in education is society is developing into a beast that believes it
does not need education to progress, this a consequence of sheltering the youth from societys
problems so they are led to believe there are none. From S. Fishmans interpretation of Dewey
and Freire, the educational discourse community is steadily shrinking in terms of cognitive
ability and ability to grow, where, and this is where the two thinkers viewpoints differ, contempt
and institutionalized morals take over. That being said, the product of Mrs. Hurtados research
has given us three educational outcomes that must be set forth to create a more apt learning
environment not only in college, but in high schools as well. She finds that ...equity in student
achievement and retention, increases in the habits of mind for lifelong learning, and the
development of multicultural and civic competencies, will put students on the right path, and set
educators on the path to get them there.

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Equity means a build-up of what is learned and building off of that to branch out into a
multifaceted individual. Increases in habits of mind for lifelong learning are simply opening
yourself up to education, opening yourself up to different points of view and retaining that
open-mind. Finally, quite possibly the most important part, the development of multicultural and
civic competencies. This is the culmination of people realizing the sheltered environment high
schools provide, and how they set us back as a unified people in society. With the
implementation of this system and perhaps a Freirean style problem-posing education (Freire
249), the system could be fixed and society could see the cure. To adopt a form of
intentionality (Freire 249), claiming what is ours and not succumbing to the media and the
pitfalls of misplaced trust by way of misinformation. Freire describes this as ...consciousness as
consciousness of consciousness. We are never simply conscious, but conscious of our actions
and experiences and consciously engaged in thought about said actions and experiences, which
transcends explicit consciousness. To Freire, we are always conscious of what is happening,
what we are succumbing to. To shelter young adults is only rendering them helpless in a sea of
misinformation; a media-saturated environment assails them only to dislodge any prior thoughts
of individualism. For the education system to work in conjunction with the media seems
preposterous, but air feeds the flame, and so too do the uneducated and inexperienced feed
misinformation in a savage circle.

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Without being able to face societys demons with an open mind and clear, fair thinking,
we are setting ourselves up for disaster. So in college, these societal micro-aggressions are
suddenly thrown at the prospective students. Microaggressions, a term coined by Greg Lukianoff
and his colleagues, comes to the conclusion that this climate of childish, sheltered students is
becoming institutionalized, a nation-wide movement of sheltered conformity, like the coddling
of a child. This movement that Lukianoff documents sanitizes the American education system,
rendering it useless in solving complex social problems. This new environment is controlled by
the educators, but they feel they cannot control it because if they clamp down on political
correctness and politeness to one's feelings, their number of incoming students will drop. If
colleges cannot fix the problem, it must be fixed closer to the root, in an environment where the
students do not have nearly as much control. The Diverse Learning Environment Mrs. Hurtado
and her team came up with is a start. We must build upon the different environment, stand atop
the uniformity and bring in a system that nurtures based on need and ability to ask questions to
further individual growth. To take shelter is to be unprepared for the aftermath, a product of
sheltering in the first place. Misinformation misguides the uneducated, often leading them to an
aggressive catatonic state of contentedness, showing no signs of growth. These microaggressions
are again a product of the sheltered atmosphere of high schools, and so too is society in a
downward spiral.

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Works Cited
Fishman, Stephen M., and Lucille Parkinson McCarthy. Whose Goals? Whose Aspirations?:
Learning to Teach Underprepared Writers across the Curriculum. Logan: Utah State UP,
2002. Print.
Freire, Paulo. Pedagogy of the Oppressed. New York: Continuum, 2000. Print.
Hurtado, Sylvia, Cynthia L. Alvarez, Chelsea Guillermo-Wann, Marcela Cuellar, and Lucy
Arellano. "A Model for Diverse Learning Environments." Higher Education: Handbook of
Theory and Research (2012): 41-122. Print.
Lukianoff, Greg. The Coddling of the American Mind. The Atlantic. Atlantic Media Company.
Web. 06 Nov. 2016.